Training Your Brain for Happiness

brainIt always seems easier to remember the bad things that happen in a day than the good things. You remember the downpour that ruined your hair on your commute to work more easily than the lovely lunch you had with a co-worker. Neuropsychologists confirm that this is normal, the brain’s “negativity bias” that helped our ancestors survive by programing them to constantly be on the lookout for bad things that might put them in danger. However, that trait brought into the less risky 21st century can make it difficult for people to stay in, and embrace their positive experiences since we experience them more fleetingly. The brain can become hardwired to look at things in a certain light, and is more likely to look on the bright side (or the dark side) based on how long the neurons are firing, or how long you are experiencing either positive or negative feelings.

Since we have a natural tendency to relive the bad more than the good, neuropsychologist Rick Hanson suggests that in order to program your brain for happiness, you need to actively take a few steps. First, you need to actively look for good experiences, the little nice things that happen each day. Then when you find one, focus in on it. Try to approach the good things in life with enthusiasm, and try new things that will make you happy.  Finally, be mindful and try to really focus on living in the moment. All of these will create more lasting happy memories in the brain, and make you more likely to notice, and experience everyday happiness in the future.

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